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Cynotilapia afra

Cynotilapia afra

Cynotilpia afra "Cobwe ". Photo by Rick Borstein.

General

Cynotilapia afra is a species that consists of many color variations. Each locality in Lake Malawi is differen tfrom the next. Cynotilapia afra was extremely popular during the 80’s but because of overpopulation it has lost some popularity. Today some color varieties are common and others are rare. Cynotilapia afra "Cobwe", pictured here, is one of the more desirable because of it’s incredible color and it’s ability to turn it on and off as if on a switch. Cynotilapia. afra is sometimes confused with the many varieties and colors of Pseudotropheus. Anatomically, they are very similar except that Pseudotropheus generally reach a larger size than Cynotilapia afra and Pseudotropheus have bicuspids and Cynotilapia afra have a unicuspid. A newer import, P. demasoni, one of the smaller Pseudotropheus is a good size match for Cynotilapia afra.

Habitat

Cynotilapia afra is fairly well represented throughout Lake Malawi with pockets of color varieties scattered about. They are cave dwellers and dart about the rocky bottom searching for food and mates. They are incessant diggers and will turn a tank upside down in a short time.

Care

Setting up an aquarium with a sandy bottom and lots of caves will make Cynotilapia afra feel right at home. Although males and females attain a size of only 4 inches, they are rather aggressive and should be treated as such. They are extremely hardy fish and again, like the P. demasoni, they can hold their own with larger fish. Of course, being a Lake Malawi cichlid, they like hard, alkaline water and a temperature range of 74-84 degrees.

Feeding

Truthfully, they eat anything fed them such as earthworms, bloodworms and brine shrimp. Cynotilapia afra are mbuna and therefore a diet consisting mainly of vegetable matter is best. A good spirulina flake is all they need, but I give mine a weekly feeding of earthworms which they attack with fervor.

Breeding

Cynotilapia afra are polygamous mouthbrooders and one male with about 6 or 8 females works great in a 50 breeder. More than one male is fine but be sure that you have adequate protection in the form of caves, flowerpots, PVC, etCynotilapia I presently have one male and three females in a 75 gallon tank along with a wild pair of Aulonocara hansbaenschi "Mozambique Cobue" and one male and three females of Aulonocara sp. "Albino Eureka". Although the Cynotilapia afra male is greatly outsized, he is the "King" of the tank. Cynotilapia afra breed about every thirty days and carry anywhere from 15-30 eggs, but the longer you let the female brood, the longer the interval will be between spawns.

Retail Price

Fry Up to $20
Adults $20-$40

These are general prices and they can vary immensely by color variety. Some varieties which are bred in Florida will be cheaper than others that aren’t.

Report April 2000 by Jim Stigliano

Copadichromis sp. "Mloto Fluorescent"

Photo by Jim Stigliano, 2000.

General

This fish has just recently been introduced into the hobby. It is being exported from Lake Malawi by African Diving Ltd. of Sweden. Although they are predominantly an exporter of Tanganyikan fishes, they do export Malawian fishes also. To my knowledge, African Diving Ltd. is the only company exporting this fish to the U.S. and by the looks of this fish, they have a winner. It is presently grouped together with "mloto" type fish because of it’s overall appearance, although the name given this fish will probably change in the future. Given the color of this fish, it is aptly named "Fluorescent". It is one of a small handful of African Cichlids that have green pigmentation. As you can see by the photo, this fish has an iridescent green head and a blue body. Note This picture was taken hours after arriving from Africa. A better picture can be found at African Diving Ltd.’s website under "New Discoveries". This iridescent green is mindful of the color sometimes seen on Bettas and Guppys, but a rare commodity in African Cichlids.

The common name for this fish is The Mloto Fluorescent Mouthbrooder

Habitat

This fish is found and collected at Hai Reef in Tanzania. According to African Diving Ltd, "It is a rare cichlid that may be found in sediment rich biotope where rocks meet the open sand floor. Females gather together in small groups seeking plankton some meters up from the bottom." Being this is a new fish in this country, some things must be assumed from other fishes of this type. From the colony that I have, I would say that they are semi to non aggressive with males attaining a length of 5-6 inches with females being slightly smaller.

Care

Copadichromis. sp. "mloto fluorescent" require no special care. They, of course, love hard alkaline water with a temperature range of 74-84 degrees. A mixture of 2 parts non-iodized salt to 1 part Epsom salt will aid in digestion and prevent bloat. I use about 1 ounce of this mixture for every 15 gallons for water.

Feeding

I feed these fish the same as everything else in my fish room. They are truly typical wild fish. Let a finger stray into the tank and they’ll try to eat that too. It’s amazing how quickly they adapt to dependency on humans. They are always the first ones scurrying about they tank waiting for food when someone enters the room. (Guess they read about Pavlov’s dogs.) I haven’t found a food that they won’t eat. At present, they have accepted frozen brine shrimp, earthworms (their favorite), bloodworms, pellets and assorted flake foods. I do make sure that they get a little more green matter, in the form of Spirulina, than some of my other fish.

Breeding

I would presume it to be non-earth shattering news to declare that this fish is a mouth brooder. I have 2 males and 6 females in a 50 gallon breeder tank that has a variety of hiding places. This colony only arrived 2 weeks ago but from observation, the 2 males are typically territorial yet atypically not out for each other’s blood. They get along well, although it goes without saying, that 1 male is boss. Both males do however show equal coloration. They are fattening up nicely and I am starting to see signs of eminent spawning. The males are chasing the females, yet not one of the females shows any outward signs of being attacked.

Retail Price

$20 to $40 U.S.

As with any new fish, they are moderately pricey. Although, I will say, I have seen and paid a lot more for new fish.

Report July 2000 by Jim Stigliano

Copadichromis geertsi

Copadichromis geertsi

Above Copadichromis geertsi, Female in foreground, Male, in breeding dress behind. Photo by Tom Rejczak.

General

Copadichromis geertsi is a representative Utaka group in Lake Malawi. Previously known as Copadichromis sp."Virginalis blotch", it was described in 1999 by Ad Konings. Males can reach eight inches in length while females get up to about six inches. In breeding dress, males have a dark blue to black color body and ivory cap. Males also exhibit a yellow bands on dorsal fin and and anal fins. Females and juveniles are gray with two black spots.

According to Fishbase, this fish was named " . . . after Martin Geerts, Dutch aquarist, one of the compilators of the Catalogue of Cichlids."

Habitat

According Ad Konings (Malawi Cichlids in their Natural Habitat), this fish was found in deep water exceeding 25M at Gome and Masinje in Malawi and Meponda and Thundu in Mozambique.

Care

Because Copadichromis geertsi gets big, it should be kept in large tanks 125 gallons or more. They prefer alkaline water about 76 to 82F degrees. The tank should contain fine gravel and some rockwork. The best ratio for breeding is one male to three females .

Feeding

My fish were fed with Spectrum pellets and live and frozen brine shrimps and frozen mysis.

Breeding

If you want to breed Copadichromis geertsi, you definitely need patience. My wild caught fish did not breed until two years after I got them. The male constructs a sand crater that is 15" diameter and 6" deep to attract females. Female incubate the eggs for 30 to 36 days.

The fry are very big, around 3/4 inch long. Spawns range in size from twelve to eighteen. I recommend removing the female to a 30 to 50 gallon brooding tank. Make sure you cover the tank as these fish jump. and cover from outside. I believe this reduces stress and the possibility of eating or spitting out eggs is reduced to minimum. My first food for the babies were live microworms. After several days I gave them Spectrum Grow Formula and frozen Daphnia.

Retail Price

A wild-caught breeding pair of Copadichromis geertsi might be much over $200. I have not seen juveniles on the market, but I guess that two-inch fish might go for around $30-40.

Report May 2008 by Tom Rejczak.

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